Shamelessly, I try to bribe my girls to not have a birthday party every single year. I offer them an outing to the zoo, tickets to the movies or a show…ANYTHING to not have to put myself through confronting my imperfection!
Last week we celebrated my youngest’s 9th birthday. This year I had another win in that I was able to avoid a birthday party with her friends, replacing it with gift cards and a mini shopping spree. Yay me!
But the cake was a complete disaster anyway… I chose an ice cream cake, seriously how can someone muck this up! But I managed to, I lost two afternoons of my life and there was a lot of colourful language in the kitchen! Not to mention the hours of cleaning melted organic ice cream cake from all through the deep freezer! Sadly this was my best attempt at a unicorn cake — heaven help me!
My amazing 9 year old was just so grateful for my efforts and loved it all the same, but seriously, kids birthdays bring out the worst in me…
I’m talking about me not being one of those “Betty Crocker Mums.” I’m the perfect poster mum for those disaster cakes that you laugh about on Instagram. You’ve seen them haven’t you, the “nailed it” images that have you snorting and crying with laughter….that’s me!
It started when my first daughter turned one. I looked around my play group and all the mums were super excited, hiring jumping castles, clowns and spending $200 on perfectly hand crafted or pre ordered cakes.
Others were on amazon for 3 months buying perfectly matched napkins, balloons and party favors. Man, I am not one of those mums. I was trying to work out how to get out of it even the first year! What was wrong with me?
Despite my meltdowns I pushed through it, we had some fruit platters and organic corn chips and salsa. I made a cake that was a complete disaster of course. I took the token photo and then threw the rest in the bin. Thank god! It’s over!
The next year wasn’t much better, a few balloons, mums and dads and their toddlers at a playground. Ultimately it ended in all the kids being in meltdown from exhaustion, the trunk of my car being covered in melted icing from the pink cake and me exhausted, feeling like a failure and hating the whole thing.
Once my girls could speak I started the birthday party negotiations — can we go shopping and but you a new outfit, can we just have a family party and dinner instead. This has worked for me, my girls are very gracious, thank god!
Two years ago I did a friend’s birthday party for each of them. I did the whole thing – the deocrations, the games, the gluten free, sugar free and dairy free foods that my kids could eat and everyone had a good time…except me! I had to look at myself and really discover why do I hate it so much!
I’m not one of those talented mums that has an eye for detail and loves decor. I don’t have a creative bone in my body so baking, decorating and going to all the efforts (even if it is for my girls who I love to death) it’s just so confronting for me!
I’m not one of those instagram mums, trust me, if you follow me on Instagram @nicolecunningham_health you will see there are no perfect images! I’m not talented with filters and I really just shoot from the hip with my posts. None of it is preplanned, scheduled or perfect…I think this is what I find so difficult about birthday parties…
I’m confronted with my desire and equal inability to achieve perfection! I want everything to be perfect for my girls, for everything to run smoothly and for there to be no tears and no melted icing! The truth is it’s just not in me!
I’m a messy cook, my inspiration comes from Jamie Oliver. I get my hands dirty, I make a huge mess and it looks like a wreck on the plate even if I give it my best efforts! I’m just not wired in the way I feel I should or desperately want to be when it comes to these things — neat, in perfect little boxes, with bows and straight lines.
The truth is my girls couldn’t give two hoots about these things as they have a blast anyway and they are just so excited to the efforts I do make and they count down the days. I just can’t enjoy it! It’s my least favorite family celebration all year — my two girl’s birthdays, they are so much harder for me than Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter.
On the other family holidays I have a plan, the details don’t matter so much and I sing the carols, decorate the house and its fun. I am the mum I want to be, authentic and imperfect, I don’t seem to put the pressure on myself. It’s my attachment to being the ‘perfect’ mum that has me undone on their birthdays! I try to be someone I’m not, someone I think I should be…
Clearly I have some work to do on myself in this space… I watch myself get intimidated by these amazing mummy bloggers with their perfect Instagram feeds, their flawless attention to detail and their perfect looking lives. I know this isn’t true for most of them and even if I think this is what motherhood should look like I know it isn’t the truth.
My experience of motherhood is messy, it’s loud, it involves tears, tantrums and lots of spilt almond milk, and I’m talking about me, not my girls!
I don’t think the bribery about birthday parties will end any time soon because truly it’s better for everyone that I don’t put myself though it every year. It’s better to celebrate in our own way, in a messy but meaningful way that my girls appreciate anyway. I’m not those mums and my girls don’t expect me to be one of those mums.
At 37 it really is time to just accept the puddle of tears that I can sometimes be, learn to love my imperfections and love the mum and woman I am. I give my best every day and I am really good at lots of things — so who really cares if I can’t bake, take perfect photos or put on eyeshadow?
I’m proud of the community I am leading on Facebook, an authentic place for mindful mamas to be themselves and share from their heart and experience. A judgement free zone for us to come to terms with out imperfections and learn to love ourselves for our efforts and not our outcomes.
My kids love me, my family loves me and little by little I’m learning to love all the different parts of me too…